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Death Certificate Project leads to hundreds of investigations

It is no surprise that the federal government is cracking down on medical professionals who fail to follow guidelines when it comes to the prescription of controlled substances like opioids. However, medical professionals may not be prepared for the increasingly aggressive stance of their local licensing board when it comes to allegations of violations.

California’s Medical Board provides an example with its use of the Death Certificate Project.

What is the Death Certificate Project?

The Medical Board of California started the Death Certificate Project to review death certificates in the state. Investigators involved in the project review certificates listing drug overdose as the cause of death. When found, certificates listing drug overdose as the cause of death are subject to further review. If the drug was a controlled substance, the investigator will look to see if a medical professional prescribed the medication. Discipline may result, depending on the findings of the investigation.

It is not uncommon for investigations to find nurse practitioners and other medical professionals licensed by other agencies responsible for the prescription in question. In those cases, investigators turn the information over to the appropriate agency.

Why should medical professionals in other states care about the Death Certificate Project?

Although currently in California, the Death Certificate Project could become commonplace throughout the country. The group has already publicly chastised 64 physicians in the state for the over-prescription of dangerous controlled substances and is currently threatening the licenses of four Nurse Practitioners. One was forced to surrender her license, while the others face public reprimand or suspension of their licenses.

Whether a physician fighting for their license or a nurse under investigation, those who find themselves the subject of an investigation by a licensing board have options. An attorney experienced in dealing with licensing boards can review your situation and discuss these options.